HC Deb 04 May 1937 vol 323 cc963-5
46. Mr. Boothby

asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government contemplate entering into negotiations with the Government of the United States of America for the conclusion of an economic agreement covering a wider field than the recent currency agreement?

The Prime Minister

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to-day to the hon. Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Mr. Lathan) and to that which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave on 13th April in reply to supplementary questions.

Mr. Boothby

Arising out of that reply, does not the Prime Minister himself think that the best hope of securing a revival of confidence and of international trade would be an agreement between the British Empire and the United States of America, and may I ask my right hon. Friend—

Mr. Speaker

That is entirely a matter of opinion.

Mr. Shinwell

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that, if an economic agreement of some kind with the United States is inevitable, it would be advisable to make a start now?

The Prime Minister

I cannot recognise that anything in this world is inevitable, but in answer to the question, my right hon. Friend said that exploratory discussions were still proceeding. Exploration implies digging, and the ground has to be well cleared.

51. Mr. Boothby

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that since December of last year the United States Treasury has bought and sterilised, at considerable expense, over 500,000,000 dollars of gold; and whether with a view to stabilising world currencies and prices and reviving international trade, His Majesty's Government are prepared to co-operate with the Government of the United States in the purchase of such fresh supplies of gold as are available for monetary purposes?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Chamberlain)

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. In reply to the second part of the question, a general co-operation is maintained with the Government of the United States of America and other parties to the Tripartite Agreement with the purpose of maintaining equilibrium in the international exchange system as far as possible, and in the pursuit of this policy gold is purchased when necessary. No change in this respect has taken place.

Mr. Boothby

Was not the Tripartite Agreement intended to be a temporary measure, and in view of the fact that it obviously leaves something to be desired, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman for an assurance that his Department will keep in the closest touch with the Treasury in Washington with a view to ensuing the maximum of co-operation between the two countries in this matter?

Mr. Chamberlain

The Treasury does keep in touch with the Treasury at Washington.